Imatges de pÓgina




REV. iii. 7-13.

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth: I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it; for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan (which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie); behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou

hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh, will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

In the zeal of interpreters, by all means to cast light upon this wonderful vision of the seven churches, recourse hath been had to the names also; which, though they be the names of real places of the Lesser Asia, then and still existent, are not therefore to be rejected as devoid of a

mystical meaning; because the perfect wisdom of God, in making choice, from the numerous churches, of seven, whose condition should make up the completeness of the condition of the Christian church both spiritually and historically considered, might so choose them, as that by their names they should contribute to that excellent design. There is no previous improbability, much less impossibility, that the particular names should be significant, as well as the particular temptations and virtues and vices of the several churches; and no interpreter hath done his duty till he fairly examine this point also, and see what it will yield. The consideration of this, however, I have postponed till I should have laid down the great cardinal principles by which the vision is to be examined, and the great ends of instruction and warning, of encouragement and reproof, which it serveth to the Christian church in all ages, and to the private Christians of all churches. And being now acquitted of this duty, whether as respects the historical or the catholic view, I yield myself willingly to seek what new information can be gathered from the names, and so to introduce the subject of our present lecture.

Now of all subjects, especially such as are more nice and difficult, it is always best to begin with that part which is the simplest and most evident, and so to proceed to that which is more difficult and remote from the common apprehension. This is the best order for teaching and learning, though it may not be the best for arranging the subject after it hath been fully comprehended. Taking this method, there is none so proper to begin with as the name of the church now under consideration; which, beyond any question, signifies "brotherly love," and can by no ingenuity be made to signify any thing else. If, then, any doctrine be contained in the name, there should be found in this epistle something specially pertaining to brotherly love. Is it so? I think no one, considering the seven epistles, can doubt that it is so. For if the "brotherly love" be sought for in the relation between the chief Shepherd and the angel, then is there no one of them all to whom he speaks with half the affection and complacency; sheltering him from the evil to come with all the tenderness of an elder to a younger brother,

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